Local News

Planning Commission Notes: September 15 Meeting

All Commissioners were in attendance.

World of Beer: The request for a conditional use permit for a Type 47 ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) license by Bijalkumar Patel & Dhaval Panchal and property owner Carlo Terranova was continued to Nov 17 on request of the applicant.  Approval of the CUP would allow “World of Beer,” a new restaurant with entertainment, to move into the storefront at 109 S. Harbor downtown (currently occupied by Blanquel Popular Art).

Electronic Billboard CCTV Camera: A request for a conditional use permit for an electronic billboard was approved by City Council on July 6. The billboard will be wired for CCTV for future camera capabilities. The City will gain 12% of net gross receipts from advertising revenue and be allowed to run one eight second Public Service message per minute. Planning Commission members approved a height limit of 75 feet.

Cannabis Dispensary Appeal: An administrative hearing for land-use and zoning violations of Fullerton Exotics, a cannabis dispensary, located at 313 W. Orangethorpe Ave. was held. Code Enforcement Officer Amber Bera presented the violations which included illegally dispensing marijuana without business registration or license, being in close proximity to facilities hosting youth programs (apartments, elementary schools, and parks), unpermitted flood lights, electrical work, signage, windows and doors, improper occupancy, failure to obtain required building permits and inspections, and violation of the city ordinance that makes dispensing marijuana illegal in Fullerton.

Exterior of Fullerton Exotics cannabis dispensary.

Even though dispensaries are not illegal in California, they are not allowed in Fullerton at this time, per the municipal code.

Many notices of violation were posted from January to July and then on July 19 the presumed owner, Adam Hinders, called the code enforcement officer claiming that he had no affiliation with the property or the illegal dispensary and believed that his identity had been stolen. After the Public Nuisance order was posted an appeal was received from Attorney Damian Nassiri on behalf of the business owner, Hinders, now claiming that the dispensary is operating as a nonprofit Cooperative. To date the illegal dispensary continues to operate.

Attorney Nassiri said, “At the original hearing via zoom, I would talk and gesture, but I don’t know if I was seen [or heard]. I was never able to offer any evidence in support of our client’s position. It was very frustrating, and we filed an appeal. I think that the Public Nuisance hearing officers determination should be overturned or the Commission should come to a different finding and allow us to have a public hearing where all the evidence could be considered. Only hearing one side of the story is basically what happened in the first hearing.”

“Our client, Fullerton Exotics, is operating as a primary care giver collective which is still allowed under California laws. Even though they passed proposition 64 and required licensure for commercial cannabis activity there is a subsection that allows for primary care givers to cultivate cannabis and provide it to patients as a primary care giver. Business and professions code 26.0.33b states that a primary care giver cultivates, possesses, stores, manufactures, transports, donates, or provides cannabis exclusively for medical purposes. Those types of primary care giver collectives are exempt from the licensure requirements. That is the evidence I am presenting now because this is a De Novo hearing, so the commission should consider the evidence. There is case law that says anybody who is following these carve out laws, Primary Care Giver or personal use, will not be subject to Civil or Criminal liability for nuisance as it specifically states. Caregivers can be reasonably reimbursed for time and expense,” said Nassiri.

During public comments 14 people showed up in person and 2 via zoom to say that the illegal dispensary was responsible for increased traffic accidents, increased homeless activity, loitering by people smoking and drinking alcohol, and influencing children to use drugs.

Commissioner Hansburg said, “This commission hears a lot of public input, and we are not going to make a decision based on public participation.”

The Commission was unanimous in upholding the public nuisance order which requires the business to close with in 7 business days. If the business does not comply the City is authorized to enter to enforce compliance or file a criminal complaint.

During closing comments Commissioner Carvalho asked to bring items such as the nuisance hearing procedure back for discussion. “I want to know exactly what happens and why it takes so long. Are there other cities that deal with it quicker? Do they red tag it and consider it a health and safety hazard where they can shut the building or unit down? The other thing I would like to bring back is discussion of downtown parking. Where we are in terms of a parking plan that is in place? As well as the cities current policy of not requiring parking for restaurant or bar use. We even saw brand new buildings come up on Santa Fe, I do not believe they were required to provide parking.”

Commissioner Cox said, “I agree. One of the things I was looking at, if I could get someone to get me a report on it,  is some things going on downtown, nuisances, noise, some offenders. An update on what has been done about those as there are some that are still offending.”

Commissioner Dino agreed adding that he would like to look at specific businesses such as JP23, Lucky 7, and D’vine.

Commissioner Thompson said he thought that those items did not require a special meeting and the commission could just be given updates by the staff. Staff agreed.

Next Meeting: The Commission’s next meeting is Sept. 29 at 6:30pm in Council Chambers at Fullerton City Hall, 303 W. Commonwealth (at Highland). For more info visit Government/Departments/City Clerk/ and then Agendas & Minutes at http://www.cityoffullerton.com.